Visiting Bangalore

Nanda-tanuja Dasa - March 22, 2005 11:16 pm

Just want to share some of my experiences in India (it was my first trip). I always wanted to go, learning the culture for so many years it was very important for me to touch it with my own hands. I was much exited and although it was a business trip (our company have opened an office in Bangalore, so I came to teach new people) I was planning to take a full advantage of my free time and explore as much as I can.


Weekend 1


First stop ISKCON Sri Radha Krishna-Chandra Temple in Bangalore. The first impression was -- wow, it’s so big. Soon feeling changes to sour – too many merchants and too little pujaris. It’s very Disneyland like, very plasticy, sparkly and with no soul. I didn’t like the feeling there at all.

Then went to Sri Narasingha Chaitanya Matha (in Srirangapatna, 2.5 hours train ride from Bangalore) and stayed there for two days, Swami B G Narasingha Maharaja is a godbrother of Swami Tripurari, so it was very nice. Very nice people and facility, food is great as well. Swami Narasingha was out on a business trip, but Swami Vishnu was present and spoke with me at great length about “old days” when him and Swami Tripurari where together in California and Hawaii. One of the highlights was seeing Dhira-lalita and meeting her son Gaura Gopal das. His mantras recitations are quite amazing – you can truly feel power flowing. They have recently installed new Jagannatha Swami Deity (the biggest one I’ve seen so far) and Dhira-lalita was working on decorating the exterior of the shrine.

Srirangapatna is a very old city and has magnificent Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple on river Cauvery (she mentioned in the Puranas and one of the holy rivers of India, so I had to take a bath). The temple was built in 894 A.D and dedicated to Vishnu, it's functioning and truly spellbinding. So I've spent two nice days in surrounding of coconut/papaya/mango trees and monkeys. One thing for sure -- nothing changed since Satyajit Ray filmed his Apu Trilogy. I never have seen so many poor people. The villages built from sticks and plastic bags from rice, houses build from cow dung and dirt, people plow rice fields using buffalos, etc. As soon as train left Bangalore it's pretty much as it was 500- years ago.


Weekend 2


I was working Saturday, but Sunday morning (4am) I've went to Melkote, town ~3 hours on the train + 2 hours to the north by car. It’s a home to two important temples.

First one, at the foothills, is Tirunarayana Swami Temple which houses Deity of Tiru Narayana which was held in worship by Brahma. Legend has it that Krishna installed this image at Melkote himself. So it’s quite old.

Second one is Sri Yoga-Narasingha Temple, at the hill, which houses Deity of Yoga Narasimha and was installed here by Prahlada. Quite old as well ;) You have to climb on very steep steps carved in the rock to reach the temple (stones polished by the feet of worshipers during so many years are quite slippery). They recognized my tilak and kunti-mala and where very pleased, they called me Hare Krsna. One of the Brahmins took me to the cave below the temple that goes right under Lord Narasimha Deity, it houses Deity of Prahlada. It is a challenging trip down the cave with VERY tight spaces. I could make only 2/3 of the way and decided that death here (although very honorable) was not in my plans just yet. Maybe after I loose another 50lb…

I’ve spend the night in Mysore and come back early Monday morning. In Mysore I’ve went to see Chamundeswari Temple on Chamundi Hill it’s built in 12th century and dedicated to Goddess Durga, the consort of Lord Shiva, who vanquished the Demon Mahishasura. I wasn’t planning on that, but I’ve got to Mysore at about 5 pm and temple was closing at 8 pm, so I’ve decided to go. I felt a little out of place with my tilak, but people had been very nice, so I had good time.


Weekend 3


Over the weekend I've visited Udupi, it's located 365 km (10 hours drive on the bus) from Bangalore. Udupi is first among the seven places of pilgrimages. Thousands of pious devotees throng the Krishna temple all round the year to catch a glimpse of Lord Krishna. The temple (Sri Krishna Mutt) was established by one of very important saints -- Madhvacarya who was bourn in A.D. 1118.

Once when Sri Madhwa was meditating near the Malpe beach (5 km from Udupi), he saw a ship drifting away following a severe storm. He saved the ship by his yogic powers. As the swamiji knew beforehand that the ship carried the idol of Lord Krishna, he accepted the Gopi Chandana (clay) pieces that the ship’s captain offered. Upon breaking the clay, Madhvacarya discovered the beautiful Krishna Deity. Madhvacarya carried the Deity to Udupi and commenced worship, and the puja has been continued by his disciplic line ever since. There is a lamp beside the Deity of Sri Krishna said to have been lit by Madhvacarya and has never gone out since.

Madhvacarya had eight disciples, all of whom took sannyasa from him and became directors of his eight monasteries to oversee the worship of the Sri Krishna Math. The responsibility of the worship is rotated in two-year periods, called paryaya, among the eight disciplic successions from his original eight disciples.


Pajaka-ksetra is Madhvacarya's birth place and located about 8 miles from Udupi. `Moodu Matha' is the ancestral house of Sri Madhwacharya. By its side is a tank called Vasudeva Teertha, built by Sri Acharya for the sake of his mother. Inside the house are his worshipable Deities, Lakshmi-Narasimha and Sri Anantapadmanabha, on a golden altar. The spot where Sri Acharya handed over tamarind seeds instead of money to his father's creditor, the place where he crushed a demon in the form of a snake, the spot where he made a dry stick sprout and blossom in order to convince his father about his superhuman powers to establish a new philosophy - all these are reminiscent of Sri Acharya's boyhood deeds.


I’ve spent the night at the farmhouse of my coworker at Moodbidri village. His father is a school teacher, but it pays little (Rs. 4000 a month, about $95) so they grow rice, coconut, pepper and other exotic and strange crops. They have about 10 cows also. Big house and everybody leaves together – several generations of people. Very nice people and interesting food.


Next stop – Kateel, located 1.5 hours bus ride from Moodbidri. Kateel is a sacred place for Hindus in Dakshina Kannada. This temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga Parameshwari. The holy temple is situated in the middle of the sacred river Nandini.


Next stop – Mangalore, located 1 hour from Kateel, the temple of Manjunatheshwara on the hills of Kadri. It is said to be built during the 10th or 11th century. The Deity of Lord Manjunathaswamy (Shiva) of the temple is called as oldest of the South Indian Temples.


Weekend 4


I took day off Friday, my destination is Sri Venkateswara Temple in Tirumala, it’s about 6 hours via bus from Bangalore. While in US I’ve heard a rumor that ISKCON Sri Radha-Govinda Temple in Tirupati helps pilgrims with foreign passports get in via shorter line. The queues in Sri Venkateswara Temple are legendary, it might take you several days to get in, but I didn’t have time to wait so long (my plane back to US was on Sunday morning), so I was hoping that they can help me.

I got to Sri Radha-Govinda Temple at about 6:00 AM Friday morning and had been greeted very nicely, one of the first questions of course was who is my Guru. I was a little afraid of that question knowing political issues, but to my surprise they had no problems with that at all. They give me a nice spacious room with hot shower and AC. I took a bath and went to the temple to chat my rounds. Arotic was very sweet with about 30 devotees present. After prasadam they assigned me a devotee who took me to Tirumala which was about one hour drive from Tirupati.

First stop Swami Pushkarini teertham. Swami Pushkarini was a pleasure tank of Sri Maha Vishnu in Vaikuntham, and was brought and set on Earth by Garuda, for the sport of Sri Venkateshwara. It is adjacent to the Sri Venkateshwara temple. A bath in the Swami Pushkarini is believed to clean pilgrims of their sins.

After a bath I went to Temple ticketing office and with help of my US passport got squeezed into much shorter queue -- VIP darshan through Cellar in Vaikuntam 'Q' Complex. It took me only about two hours waiting to see Sri Venkateswara who is truly magnificent. Btw, their laddus are to die for as well.


I came down back to Tirupati at about 4 PM, so I had some free time to visit local temples. I went to Sri Govindarajaswami Temple and Sri Kapileswaraswami (Kapila-teertham) Temple.

Sri Govindarajaswami Temple was consecrated by Sri Ramanujacharya 1130 AD. The principal Deity is an impressive Sayanamurti (the Lord in a sleeping posture) and very beautiful.

Sri Kapileshwaraswami Temple is the only temple dedicated to Lord Siva, in the pantheon of Vaishnava temples in Tirupati. It is situated about 3 km to the north of Tirupati, at the foot of the Tirumala Hills. The sage Kapila was granted darshan of Lord Siva and his consort here, the sacred waterfall called Kapila-teertham (also known as Alwar Teertham) is located here as well. Bathing in Kapila-teertham is supposed to extinguish all sins.


I’ve spent the night at the ISKCON ashram and then come back to Bangalore by bus.


The End.


SashidharaDasa - March 23, 2005 10:45 pm

Congratulations Prabhu...


You made most out of your trip to India.



BTW I belong to Hyderabad in India and have been to Tirupati almost every year. I really love that place. (Of course now I live in fremont,CA)


It was so nice to hear about all your experiences.


Thank you very much for sharing.





Bhrigu - March 24, 2005 7:20 pm

Thanks for sharing your experiences with us, Nandatanujaji! I visited some of those places as a brahmacari some years ago, and your descriptions really brought my experiences back. You really seem to have made the best of your free time down there. That is very exemplary for the rest of us.